Off the train I hit the streets
and start laughing. This is ridiculous,
incomprehensible. How can innumerable bipeds
have individual inner lives. Why are they doing
what they’re doing? I have no answer
New York City but to also go about my business
in this case prepare for surgery, survival.
But why survive with so many exact replicas
to replace me? A swarm of ants or hive of bees,
social organisms they’re called, climbing
over each other, avoiding bumping and amazingly
making way, anticipating the sudden turns
and straight paths of others, strangers but brothers,
sisters incubating, the cells of a small
*****, nodes of a single semi-conscious organism.
The concept of a higher power that cares
for me is also risible yet how else
can I explain the surgeon and his team,
robots and magnetic resonance imaging machines,
all primed and trained to save my life.
They are not particularly interested in what
I do with my time. I am immediately
in love with the Irish brogue of the head nurse,
the Indian skin of the physician’s assistant.
The long extraordinarily thin
fingers of the famous surgeon. All
mine to savor (and the other cancer patients).
Back on the streets, rush to the train.
So many women to choose from! One Asian-American,
a dancer I imagine, stands out, tall
calm, still, graceful. No cell, no hair, no hurry.
Yesterday’s suicidal thoughts: the mind
is a clever servant, insufferable master. Therefore,
meditate on this: absolute need, dependence on the Other.
I still like Hombre, The Shootist and Ulzana’s Raid
but realize those dead heroes
were subordinate to society: the gun manufacturers who armed them.
Thus, I go for cancer tests, accepting, not predicting results.
Hero accepting help.
A torrential rain following five days of flooding,
tornadoes out west busting up wooden towns
all because too many of us are hoarding plastic, herding electrons.
None of us know how it will end, what the outcome will be
(of our surgery). The best that can be said
is Don’t forget to breathe. And you might
as well believe in that higher power.
--title from a tune by Billy Strayhorn